tv CNN Newsroom CNN January 27, 2010 9:00am-11:00am EST
6:00 out west. here's what's happening right now -- toyota's ice and apples. the king of the car sales universe slamming on the brakes. eight models you see on the road all the time. eight models, can't get them, not now. a flaw that's just too dangerous to chance. no brakes for winter and no break for middle america. the ice age cometh to the southern plains again. tech knnotechno geeks aroun world giddy over apple's tablet. the latest installment of "as the worm turns." president obama's first official state of the union address, so much on the line, where does he even start? suzanne malveaux's got that covered for us. watergate light? a louisiana version? is that what we have on our hands in brianna keilar's got her ear to the story, so to speak. and is the stimulus package giving us our money's worth in
don lemon manning the cnn stimulus desk and keeping them honest. we are 12 hours away from president obama's first state of the union address. if the past few days are an indicator, getting america's financial house in order is at the top of the president's to-do list. cnn white house correspondent suzanne malveaux, help us out here. what's he going to say? >> i've been speaking with white house officials this morning. clearly what they're trying to do is create a tone of "yes we can" once again to really give the american people not only a sense of faith in this president, but also a sense of faith in their government. what the role of their government is and what the government's sengsly can do. he's going to be focusing clearly on the middle class and the kinds of economic policies that he's pushing forward. what are we talking about here? we're talking about, yes, health care reform. that hasn't gone away in reforming those insurance companies and their practices. tax credits for child car. that type of thing. limits on the federal student loan payments to help student
loans, as well as expanding support care for the elderly. that is something, non-controversial, obviously a lot of people looking for that kind of assistance. $4 billion we've learned this morning is additional spending on education. then some fiscally conservative economic policies. we're talking about that three-year spending freeze on discretionary spending in particular areas, domestic programs. then finally, a message that the president gets it, kyra, that he's talking about top white house officials whose salaries will also be frozen. we're not going to be looking at bonuses for those top officials saying "i get it, i understand what the american people are going through." kyra, i understand we don't necessarily have the sound but i want to tell you about it. i had a chance to talk to robert gibbs this morning and i pressed him a little bit on wl whether or not the president is going to acknowledge some mistakes, some lessons learned in this first year. that is something he talked about in the campaign as a
candidate. it was very refreshing. and robert gibbs said, yes, he is going to acknowledge that there were some missteps that were made. one of the main things that the president is going to address is that there needs to be more bipartisanship, that he needs to do a better job in bringing democrats and republicans together. when he talked about a new change, a change in washington, that clearly is not something that has happened. that is something that he is going to taken for this coming year. >> you're going to be able to solicit questions to the president via youtube this year. right? >> yeah. this is something really new. we'll see how that goes. but the white house is inviting people to not only listen to the state of the union address, but then go to youtube and post a question to the president. now the white house is going to take these questions and they're going to select them and then next week they're going to have a live kind of internet chat activity, an event at the white house where they say the president will answer some of the viewers' questions. now clearly they're going to pick which ones they want to answer so we'll see how this
goes. if it is the president's favorite color. but we anticipate there will be some other questions, more challenging, that they will also take. >> so what is his favorite color? >> oh, i wish -- i used to know that actually. but there's going to be a new opportunity clearly for the white house to project a sense of, look, we're reaching out to the american people, he's listening to the american people, so we're trying to address some of your concerns. >> got it. it will be interesting. to say the least. th thanks, suzanne. >> check back next week. in our prime time coverage of the president's state of the union address will begin at 8:00 p.m. eastern with the best political team on television right here on cnn. well hello. is anybody listening? do we have a louisiana watergate on our hands possibly? federal agents have actually arrested four men now. they allegedly tried to tamper with senator mary landrieu's office phone and one of the guys we've actually seen before. dressed as a pimp. i know, i know, this is
louisiana politics. cnn congressional correspondent brianna keilar is all over it. i worked in that market of louisiana. i tell you what, nothing is impossible. nothing will surprise you. >> this is so strange. i mean this is a very intriguing story, kyra. basically it starts like this. a couple days ago, according to the fbi, a couple of guys walked in to the new orleans office of senator mary landrieu, louisiana senator, and they were posing as phone company technicians. they had the full outfit on, work pants, work shirt, tool belt, they were holding hardhats, they had on reflective vests and they said they needed to check the phone. they were actually given access to the phone at the front desk, kyra. and they sort of fiddled with the phone, according to the affidavit. they manipulated it and then they said there was something the matter with the phone system for the entire office basically and they needed to access the phone closet. now simultaneously there was a third guy, one of the guys who's also been charged in this
situation, a third guy who's videotaping some of this going on with the camera on his cell phone. his name is james o'keefe. he is the one you referred to as having been dressed as a pimp and he and a fourth man have been charged with aiding and assisting this operation. the other two have been charged with really more trying to carry it out. >> we should remind folks, james o'keefe is the one that did those a.c.o.r.n. videos. >> that's right. james o'keefe real ly became known to us because he took a hidden camera, went into some a.c.o.r.n. offices. essentially saying a.c.o.r.n. was corrupt and he really seemed to make his point with these undercover videos. he was posing as a pimp, he was with this woman that posed as a prostitute. they were asking for tax advice on how to operate a brothel from some of these a.c.o.r.n. employees. one of our affiliates, wwl, caught up with him yesterday after he was charged. listen to what he told them.
>> do you have anything to say about the charges against you? why were you in senator landrieu's office? >> the truth shall set me free. >> what's really fascinating, he's not the only person, it appears, of note here. there is also another gentleman, robert flanagan, who is the son of the acting u.s. attorney for the western district of louisiana, kyra. >> so how did they get caught in the end? obviously we haven't heard anything besides "the truth will set us free" as to why they did this. >> we're not sure why they did this. senator landrieu isn't up for re-election. it is going to be a tough mid-term election this year for a lot of folks on capitol hill. she's not up for re-election. but it seems that their story really seemed to unravel when the senator's staff says -- someone on the senator's staff said they needed to talk to the building staff. remember, her office is in a federal building. it is not just her office. there are a number of other ones. someone from the building staff asked for their credentials. they said they were out in the car. seems at this point their story unraveled, according to the fbi. and then the fbi got involved.
now they're facing pretty serious felony charges. >> the senator came out and talked about this. right? >> she issued a brief statement saying this was unusual, obviously, and this is very unsettling. she wants to find out more about it, but her office also said it is an ongoing investigation so they can't say a whole lot about it. she says the investigation hopefully will yield more details but it sounds like she knows as little about this as maybe a lot of us do, kyra. >> we'll try and find out more, that's for sure. brianna keilar, thanks. your tax dollars bailed out the banks but here is a question -- was the government short-changing you on the truth? treasury secretary tim geithner facing a capitol hill grilling next hour. a house panel is looking into the aig bailout and how some of that money was funneled to other banks secretly. the government audit found taxpayers may have lost billions of dollars on those deals. helping the fat cats but
doing squat for the rest. that's how most americans feel about the stimulus right now. check out the latest cnn/opinion research poll. more than half polled say the bill has helped bankers. 4 in 10 say it's helped business executives but only 25% say it's helped the middle class. only 1 in 3 americans think that the stimulus bill has helped people who have lost jobs. in fact, there are jobs tied to the stimulus. many of them require hardhats. don lemon has his on today at the cnn stimulus desk tracking projects across the country. >> i'm really looking at this stuff. jobs. that's what people really want right now. we've been talking a lot about health care, the administration but people are really concerned about jobs. and, what happened to their stimulus money? let me walk over here to the -- obviously i'm here at the stimulus desk but i want to show you what we're working on. we're working on projects all over the country to find out where all of your money went, the stimulus project.
listen, these are things we're trying to work. this is a total that we have accounted for so far. we have to account for $158 billion. this is the total now, $2 billion. but we're going to get to that. we have a long way to go. show some of the construction workers out there. improving roads and bridges. $36 billion so far allocated to helping out our bridges, our roads, reconstruction, what have you, improving them. we're going to drill down on some specifics on that but let me tell you where the money sort of goes. some of that $36 billion, $27.5 billion goes to highway construction. then $8.4 billion goes to public transportation. that's how they're going to break it down. how many jobs is this going to create? we are being told, so far, 250,000 jobs have been created for all of this. 250,000 jobs have been created through all of this with you but again those aren't permanent jobs.
quickly, if you look at one of the wbiggest projects here, i-9, we're going to talk more about this later, we'll talk to a cnnmoney.com writer there who is really drilling in on this project on one of the heaviest traveled corridors in the united states. broward county in florida. a reporter will come and talk about this project. they say it is creating jobs. others say it is not because they're growing a little bit sort of dismal with what's happening here. again this is our total. $2 billion so far that we've accounted for. the payoff in this, here is the payoff. how much has been created? $36 billion given so far, 24 million miles of road improved, 250,000 jobs created for this specific overall project. we'll dig deeper, drill down on one community to find out where that $20.5 million is going that they got from the stimulus project coming up in just about
20 minutes. kyra, i'll get back to work on the stimulus desk. >> sounds great, thanks, don. tomorrow on cnn's "american morning," the bridge was built to make the town's people safe? they feel safe, all right. safe in saying what a waste. stimulus project. all this week, only on cnn and at cnn.com/stimulus. you want to buy a toyota? you better check the list and don't get picky. the one you want may not be for sale anymore thanks to a potentially fatal flaw. i'm cnn meteorologist jacqui jeras taking the latest computer models. a powerful winter storm hitting the southern plain states for tomorrow that could literally cripple travel and leave thousands without power. the latest on the forecast is coming up.
in washington. >> this problem led toyota to recall top-selling models six days ago. now the company is stopping sales and production of very, very rare step. toyota is putting a "not for sale" sign on some of the most popular vehicles in america. eight models affected. all recalled just six days ago because the accelerator can get stuck in a partly depressed position, or it may return too slowly to an idle position. >> it is so unusual, it is not just a recall which is expensive, they're actually going to stop selling some of their most popular models which means they'll lose a lot of money. >> reporter: models affected, rav 4, corolla, tundra, highlander and sequoia. toyota said, "helping ensure the safety of our customers and restoring confidence in toyota are very important to our company. this action is necessary until a remedy is finalized." all of the vehicles are made in
north america. plants in indiana, texas, kentucky and canada. toyota says rather than immediately stopping production, it will keep assembly lines running until next week to allow time to notify suppliers and then it will fix all vehicles. >> whether they lose their customers is what's totally at stake here. it is clear they have a problem. it is clear they have a quality problem. what will define how well they rebound is how well they handle this. >> reporter: toyota's problems may present an opportunity for troubled american auto companies to gain sales, especially since many consumers perceive japanese vehicles as more reliable than american cars. now that image is taking a hit, though analysts say toyota is showing it cares more about people than profits. >> we'll follow the story. for a complete list of the cars, trucks and suvs are affected, just logon and go to cnn.com. you'll also find the number to call toyota if you have any
questions or concerns. okay, oklahoma. get ready. jacqui jeras, you've got the big storm update. >> my gosh, yeah, this is going to be a bad one. we're concerned it could rival the storm -- ice storm in oklahoma back in 2007, if you remember that and how widespread it was. people were without power literally for weeks. they're already saying, the oklahoma weather office, we could be looking at one to five days without power in the city and up to a week in some rural areas. when you look at the weather map today, you think, just got a little weak storm there in the southwest but it is an upper level disturbance. today it is bringing some scattered rain showers. we're getting some snow that's going to be developing across the four corners. it could be heavy at times. 8 to 16 inches. what's going to happen is that this storm system moves towards the plain states tonight and into tomorrow. it is going to meet up with that cold arctic air coming in from the north and what happens is that cold air, denser than warm
air so that warm air is going to be on top, cold air on the bottom so it comes down as rain, and that will freeze on all inanimate objects. that's your power lines, trees, your car, that's your driveway, anything that's elevated, you're going to have a lot of problems p . we could see accumulations up to an inch. tulsa, oklahoma, oklahoma city, and maybe fayetteville, arkansas. if that's not enough, on the back side of the system we'll see that transition over to some snowfall. expect heavy snow in northwestern oklahoma, 6 to 12 inches very easily. you put that snow and strong winds gusting up to 25, maybe 35 miles per hour on top of that and any of those power lines that didn't come down, that may be just enough to let them go, unfortunately. today that cold air is bottled up here toward the north. your windchill indices, bitter
cold. duluth, minnesota, 24 below zero. feels like 7 in minneapolis. 10 below in green bay and 1 below zero in chicago. the cold air will move down towards the south, towards the east. travel delays today, not all that bad. not really reporting any major hubs having problems but tomorrow this could be crippling for the southern plain states and other cities like dallas, ft. worth, as well as new orleans could see some travel delays from the storm as well. >> all right, thanks. curtain goes up. details trickle out. apple is about to unveil its newest product. we'll give you a sneak peek. tt the counter... and choose any car in the aisle. unreal! oh yeah! whoaaa-- ( alarm sounding ) i'm sorry. you okay? my bad, mr. sapp. oh yeah. go national. go like a pro. ddon: ...no matter where youf walmart's $live.-day generic prescriptions... i'm sorry. you okay? my bad, mr. sapp. oh yeah. don: plus get free shipping on over 3,000 other prescriptions. don: call 1-800-2-refill for your free home delivery.
top stories now. telecom giant verizon says it will shed some 13,000 jobs this year. it posted a lousy fourth quarter in 2009 and there may be something to the unlucky number 13 for that company. verizon pared its employee ranks by 13,000 in 2008 and 2009. if you're an apple person this might be old news, but bear with us. we're 3 1/2 hours away from apple's latest big reveal. talking about the tablet. it's been shrouded in secrecy but analysts expect it to have a ten-inch touchscreen that delivers music, video, and surfing applications. on the brink of foreclosure? maybe bank of america has your
back. the treasury department says it is the first american financial institution to agree to its secondary mortgage loan modification program. homeowners with the boa second mortgage could get their payments lowered or eliminated. three meals a day? not in haiti. some people say they're eating a meal every three days. as it runs out, desperation grows.
from had just collapsed or was destroyed in the quake two weeks ago. logistics are still a concern in haiti. some 800 to 1,000 aid flights are still waiting for permission to land right there at the port-au-prince airport. the u.n. says that small trucks are needed to navigate crowded streets. u.n. also estimates that 2 million people need aid but only 5,000 have gotten it. as karl penhaul reports, when the food runs out the anger definitely flares up. >> reporter: empty stomachs and growing desperation. these haitians needed food, but now they're choking on pepper
spray. brazilian peacekeepers drive by the hordes trying to stop them from trampling and crushing each other. "we lost everything. our families and now our dignity and we have to put up with this misery," he says. only two trucks of rice arrive at this distribution point in downtown port-au-prince. yet thousands charge down the street, first come, first served. >> we are not violent people. they are normal people but they are wanting to eat. >> reporter: two weeks since the quake but many in this crowd say they're still only getting something to eat once every three days. every morsel counts. these are scenes some aid workerers are predicting. the longer it takes to get aid
to hungry and desperate people, the more difficult it will become in security terms to distribute that aid because people will be willing to fight to get their hand on what little there is to go around. >> we are in deep [ bleep ]. >> reporter: the lucky few make it through the barricades. thousands more can only wait and watch the aid running out. then a brief moment of hope. the crowd is breaking into cheers. they've seen another truck coming and believe it is full of more aid. but there is nothing more today. a slow fuse is burning. filling those empty stomachs fast may be the only way to avoid an explosion. karl penhaul, cnn, port-au-prince. the nation's foreclosure
crisis. a new development could keep more americans in their homes. o. 31 are streaming a sales conference from the road. 154 are tracking shipments on a train. 33 are iming on a ferry. and 1300 are secretly checking email on vacation. that's happening now. america's most dependable 3g network. bringing you the first and only wireless 4g network. right now get a free 3g/4g device for your laptop. sprint. the now network. deaf, hard-of-hearing and people with speech disabilitie. all of it connected. sustaining every living thing. there's nothing more important on our planet, than water that's why brita has partnered with the surfrider foundation. because cleaner water in our world, is just as important as cleaner water in our homes. reduce lead and other contaminants... with the advanced filtration system of brita.
the nation's biggest mortgage lender signing into a program that could keep more americans in their homes. we just had the opening bell. susan lisovicz is at the new york stock exchange with all that and more. >> hey, kyra. this is a huge story for people who are really having problems making mortgage payments or in danger of foreclosure completely. one of the reasons why is that it involves bank of america which is the nation's biggest bank, that has agreed, the first big banker to agree to lower or eliminate payments on second mortgages. that is a huge move. it could influence other banks and obviously we'll be watching that quite closely. but this is a very busy news day. a lot of focus is on washington. well, first of all of we have a 2:15 p.m. the federal reserve releasing its latest policy decision. the fed widely expected to keep
rates at their historic lows. the meeting comes as the senate has finally scheduled a vote on ben bernanke's second term as chairman. that will happen tomorrow. democrats say they have the votes they need. wall street of course will also be listening to tonight's state of the union address for more details about a potential bank regulatory overhaul. we won't easily forget what happened last week when shares of big banks like jpmorgan chase, morgan stanley and goldman sachs plummeted with talk of reforms. apple in san francisco unvoiunu unveils its highly anticipated tablet. right now we're seeing a little bit of selling off.
not unusual. we have a lot going on. usually it is pretty cautious in the hours leading up to an interest rate decision. back to you. >> susan, thanks so much. the president's state of the union address tonight. he's going to talk to the middle class and to middle america. one place that was pivotal to his bid for the white house. ohio. cnn's carol costello is in youngstown with the view from a swing state. carol, this is an area very close to your heart for a number of reasons. >> reporter: that's right. i am in youngstown, ohio and i'm from not very far from here, about 45 minutes away, canton, ohio. this part of ohio has been particularly hard hit by the economy. the poverty rate here, kyra, 33%. 33% of people who live in youngstown are below the poverty level. unemployment is very high. higher than the national average. when people sit down tonight and watch the president's state of the union, they want to hear more than words. they want to hear a plan.
they want to hear how the president is going to create jobs for him, because even though this part of ohio has gotten what? $52 million in stimulus money? it hasn't created enough jobs to really make a difference. so, it will be very interesting to see how people react to the president's speech tonight. >> like we pointed out, this is your home state. this is where you grew up and you went there -- you went back a year ago when the president was voted in. within the past year, describe the mood, the changes, the viewpoints from when the president first came into place, to now. >> reporter: well, last year -- when i was here during the election, i mean president obama visited ohio quite a bit. he was here 14 times during the election. he was here twice in youngstown and people were very excited to hear his message of hope and change. in fact, the people of youngstown, 70% of them voted for barack obama because they
really believed that change was coming to an area hard hit by the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector. today the mood, you want to know what it is? it is not exactly anger. it is more frustration. people are really disenfranchised. they have lost hope, which is very unusual, i must say, for ohioans because you know what, kyra? we're a hearty group. >> i don't know if you've had a chance to go home while being on assignment, but around the costello dinner table there in ohio, what's the chitchat like? the things you can tell me on air. >> reporter: you really want to know the answer to that? >> exactly! there's probably some things we can't say. that's a whole other story. >> reporter: yeah. well, i will say my parents are very conservative so they were not big fans of barack obama in the first place. let's just say they're even less enchanted by barack obama than they were before. you know, they own a small
business. they're struggling just like the rest of ohio is. so i talked to my mother last night, she said she's not going to listen to the state of the union but i bet she really will listen because she likes to argue with people and we discuss things all the time like that. >> and her daughter inherited that trait, for sure. it will be interesting. it will be interesting to see what comes out of ohio. you've been tracking that for more than a year now. the president was there 14 different times. carol costello, thank you so much. our prime time coverage of the president's state of the union address begins 8:00 p.m. eastern with the best political team on television. that's right here on cnn. how's uncle sam spending your tax money? cnn's stimulus project. tracking it this hour, looking at some concrete results. $36 billion already spent on bridges and highways. is the government getting the most bang for your buck? i don't know. let's ask don lemon. he's looking for answers at the
stimulus desk. >> you know we're getting results, right, when you look on the official white house blog and you see at white housegov/blog, they are actually commenting on what we're doing here. that's a good thing. we talked about all the money that's for construction projects specifically for roads, highways in the nation, $36 billion so far. i want to talk right now about the person who has been doing some really great reporting on this. her name is tammy. tammy works for cnnmoney.com, she is a senior writer there. tammy, talk about specifically -- let's drill down on one project which involves i-95 and broward county. you spoke to a construction company there, the biggest job they've had so far. they're happy about that but there are other things they are concerned about. >> right. yeah. they're finding that when they go to bid on these projects, instead of having four to five bidders they've normally had for government projects, they're finding 25 people in the room. it's been very, very difficult
for them to get these stimulus projects. before they said they would have maybe two years ago a 30% to 40% shot of landing the project. now they say it is maybe 2% to 3%. so this widening of i-95 has been their biggest project. $20.5 million. they're very happy. it saved 20 people on their payrolls. but the other project they've only landed a handful of repaving projects other than this. they want more but they can't get it. >> 20 people on their payrolls but these are not permanent jobs. once this particular i-95 job is over, these people are not assured of having a job. >> well, it depends what other types of contracts they get. they said their business was down 15% last year in 2009 and the only reason it wasn't down more is because they had a backlog from 2008. they still had to let 200 people go last year so these 20 people were saved from that. they're saying that 2010 will be very tough and they don't know what's going forward, what they're going to do with their payrolls. >> they had to lay off folks last year. don't go anywhere.
i want to show you, this is i-95. we're talking about broward county here, and that's where this project, $20.5 million that they got for that. check this out, this is live right here, i-95, part of the interstate that goes through broward county. we've got cnnmoney.com. you saw tammy there checking on that. kyra, here's the interesting thing. we said this $36 billion overall that's supposed to go to highway and transit or whatever. it aid 250,000 jobs but again these are not permanent jobs, because once they get -- once these jobs are over, these temporary jobs fixing these roads, these people are not assured of a job. so far cnn's working on about $2 billion that we've accounted for and are working on when it comes to all of that stimulus money. i'm going to get back to work and i'll toss it right back to you. >> thanks, don. tomorrow on cnn's "american morning," the bridge was built to make one town's residents safe. but has it become a $7 million
the quiet before the expected ice storm in oklahoma city. it's being touted as a real doozy thanks to our friends at koco for this peek. good luck tomorrow. jacqui jeras, it's going to be rough. >> yeah, it is going to be rough. they better spend today getting ready for that storm and making sure you've got all your supplies. they say three-day supply at least of water, non-perishable foods to get you through and be prepared to be without power
maybe one to five days, we're hearing, and maybe even a week if you live in rural areas. the winter storm warnings have already been posted and they don't really even go into effect until tomorrow morning when that moisture begins to start filling in and that cold air meets up with that. ice accumulations around a half-inch easy. we could see locally heavier amounts, and it only takes maybe a quarter of an inch of ice to accumulate on power lines and tree limbs and start bringing that down and start causing problems. to add insult to injury, unfortunately, we're going to get snow coming in after the freezing rain, and then strong winds which could gust around 25 miles an hour. we're going to be dealing with these issues and cold temperatures behind that so that ice is going to stick around for a couple of days. the storm system itself still way back here. it is an upper-level disturbance. it's actually taken a southerly track. it is going to head down south of new mexico, then make its way into texas by tomorrow. that cold front advances with it, and so that cold air goes underneath the warm air and it comes down as rain and then
freezes on contact. so ice is a much bigger problem usually than that winter weather. we've got those cold temperatures already in place today across the upper midwest. the rest of the country, the cold air moves over the warmer lake waters creating lake effect snows today. northeast still reeling from heavy rains earlier in the week. check out these pictures from the pittsburgh area. finally today the parkway around downtown is open after pumping out the floodwaters from the roadway. about a half a mile of 376 was closed after the monongahela river came out of its banks. the waters will slowly recede as we head toward the weekend. kyra, we'll be watching that storm in oklahoma. what to do with u.s. troops. just part of the discussion on afghanistan's future. the major players are all getting tougher -- or together, rather, to get tougher and hash it out.
making nice with taliban fighters. that's one of the plans that we'll hear about at a special conference on afghanistan tomorrow. also, how to hand over areas to afghan forces. cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr joining us. what might be new or different about this meeting? >> well, kyra, as you say, that's what people are going to look for, what's new, what's different. another international meeting of the u.s., its allies an afghan officials in london tomorrow to talk about the way ahead. talk about more troops, more security, more training for afghans, but this time one of the things they're going to be talking about is extending the olive branch to the taliban, trying to bring the enemy in from the cold. there is expected to be a lot of discussion about this and it's something that is very
politically tenable, something some of the democrats on capitol hill want to see as a way ahead to get out of this financial quagmire in afghanistan. senator carl levin, chairman of the very powerful armed services committee, talked about all of this just the other day. >> another thing to watch is to whether or not president karzai and we can come up with a program for reintegration of those lower-level taliban which will chip away at the power of the taliban and help to support the efforts of the afghan security forces. >> so, what are we really talking about, kyra? you're talking just like they did in iraq, about money, jobs, extending that economic olive branch, if you will, to some of the lower-level taliban fighters who the u.s. feels basically are in it to earn money. if you can give them jobs, if you can give economic development, maybe they'll stop fighting. but here's the wrinkle. what about the big guns?
what about mullah omar, the leader of the taliban? is there some way to extend an olive branch to him, and would the u.s. even want to get involved with him? that's a major question and right now, of course, the taliban think they're doing pretty good in afghanistan, so the other question is whether they'd even want to come to the negotiating table. but this is what everybody will be looking for at this london meeting, kyra. >> so what's the reality of this? could it work? >> well, that's really the bottom line. could it work? right now, here's one example. the u.s. military intelligence community believes 33 of 34 provinces in afghanistan have taliban shadow governments. that's an indicator of how the taliban think they're doing. they think they have control and momentum in a good number of areas in afghanistan. why would they come to the negotiating table, no matter how big the olive branch of money and development and jobs is, why
would they give up what they think they have? that's going to be the hurdle to cross. kyra? >> all right, barbara starr, we'll follow it. thanks so much. straight ahead, a gecko story that actually has nothing whatsoever to do with car insurance. but there is a human underwear involved. at the hartford, we help you pursue them with confidence. by preparing you for tomorrow. while protecting what you have today. you've counted on us for 200 years. let's embrace tomorrow. and with the hartford behind you, achieve what's ahead of you.
oh, yeah. i can see the movie title now, a german man got caught trying to smuggle reptiles out of new zealand. that's just skimming the surface of the story, though. how did he plan to get them out and onto a plane? my hiding them in his underwear, of course. 44 small geckos and skinxs, he them in a special panty pouch. and one woman one week, count them, three duis and three crashes too. here she is in all of her glory. she's actually pretty lucky, she's only facing drunk driving charges. lucky she didn't kill anyone. so what are they doing to keep her off the road this time? not much.
$50,000 bail. oh, and she's been ordered not to drink and drive. that's a good idea. that seemed to have worked real well so far. she faces a $1500 fine for each offense but no jail time. how about a good slap on the wrist to go with that. and this one is going to outrage you. it's their own fault. that's the sentiment from paul shirley. he's a former nba player who seems to hate haiti. maybe not hate, but let's just say he's not a big supporter. he's also not much of a basketball player either. 18 games in three nba seasons. why do we care about this guy? because in his blog he says he's not going to give any money to the haitians because they'll just waste it anyway. he also says it's their fault for living in a quake zone. you want another gem from this brilliant guy? in an open letter to the haitian people he says as we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request, could you not resort to the creation of film see shanty and shack
towns and could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while? don't even know where to start with this one. how insensitive can you be, paul, really? now we want to know what would your response be to this letter? we posted it on my blog. post your comments and we'll read some of them in the next hour of the "cnn newsroom." we've got a lot of news happening right now. cnn crews gathering all the details for us. let's check in with our correspondents beginning with suzanne malveaux in new york. >> reporter: well, it's countdown for state of the union for president obama and clearly he's going to try and give a kind of yes, we can inspiration to the american people. he's going to be acknowledging the challenges, the hard economic times, but he also is going to be proposing some initiatives to actually tackle that and help the american peep dole better. i'll have all that coming up at the top of the hour. >> reporter: i'm susan lisovicz at the new york stock exchange. the nation's biggest bank is announcing a new plan that aims to keep more americans in their homes. kyra, more on bank of america's
plans next hour. i'm cnn meteorologist jacqui jeras. a powerful ice storm to slam the southern plains states tomorrow. what you need to know to stay safe is coming up in the next hour. also ahead, a remarkable story of survival. a blind violinist rescued from the rubble in haiti. in the next hour, he talks to us from the hospital.
so, are stimulus dollars working for you? a new poll shows that most of you think that the suits or big-time execs are benefiting most from our tax dollars, not you or our neighbors on main street. christine romans went to a low income delaware community to see how stimulus projects are actually working there. >> reporter: how long have you lived here? >> about 20, 25 years. >> reporter: eleanor whaly lives in west rehoboth, delaware, where most make less than $20,000 a year and some homes have no running water. whaly does but after her bathtub cracked a couple years ago it leaked water and ruined her
insulation. >> my husband tried to fix it up but the water ruined all of that. >> reporter: so the hot air in the house just goes out. it took $230 a month to heat her small home but her bathroom has been repaired and her bill is down $40, all thanks to your stimulus money. whaly is vice president of the west rehoboth community land trust and helped get a $130,000 stimulus grant to weatherize homes here. it's also training residents to do the work themselves. >> stimulus in the terms of giving people a better standard of living and hopefully it will actually put some people into the economy on a long-term basis. >> reporter: but this isn't the only stimulus program helping out whaly and her neighbors. just two miles down the road it rehoboth beach. a summer resort for washington's elite. it may be the dead of winter, but the beach is hopping with construction workers, rebuilding the town's boardwalk with $5.5
million stimulus dollars. >> this project wouldn't be happening without the federal stimulus dollars? >> absolutely. meaning there would be no workers here, there would be no workers potentially even getting paychecks. >> reporter: city commissioner stan mills says the boardwalk, parts of it more than 50 years old, was in bad shape. >> so when you heard about the stimulus project, you immediately thought we have a shovel-ready project just waiting for federal dollars. >> absolutely. >> reporter: mills said besides creating jobs now, a new boardwalk will mean more tourists this summer. but stimulus dollars for tourism? the project landed on a republican list of wasteful projects and a local citizen, a democrat, staged a small protest. >> it doesn't make sense to me, the concept of using money to build this boardwalk when it was already functional. >> reporter: but back across town, eleanor whaly says the boardwalk project is important for her livelihood. she works in the resort town, like many of her neighbors, and
depends on tourism. >> some say this is a waste. >> oh, my god no. i think it's the best thing that could have happened not only for me but other residents living here in the community. >> reporter: christine romans, cnn, west rehoboth, delaware. one last note. the cost to rebuild the boardwalk was $5.5 million. the delaware department of transportation says it created 31 full-time jobs and the west rehoboth weathering and training project cost $130,000 and has created one full-time job. this hour on capitol hill, treasury secretary timothy geithner facing tough questions about the taxpayer bailout on big banks. why so many secret deals? why trust someone who has raised so many questions of integrity already? we don't have to issue with integrity when it comes to ali velshi. bottom line, i think a lot of people are wondering as we're monitoring this live event,
first it was bad taxes, then alleged secret deals and this is our money guy. could this be the chopping block. >> today is a serious day for timothy geithner. the reality is the taxes issue is one where it didn't affect me or you much. but what happened is september 16th of 2008 he was the head of the new york fed. they oversee financial institutions. that was the day, you'll remember this, right in the financial crisis the government made a decision to give $85 billion to aig, most of that money was used to pay banks that aig had contracts with. now, the geithner at the time with the new york fed apparently went and negotiated with some of these banks and said do you have to take all the money you owed or can you take a haircut. most of them said no, one said yes. as a result they simply didn't negotiate with any of them and every bank owed money by aig got fully paid. the rest of the country took a haircut and has been for a year and a half. >> everybody was so tough on us, on the public. >> that's exactly the question. >> so why wasn't he tough on the
banks. >> he's got two issues. one is if he said that they misstepped back then, then it puts into question his abilities as treasury secretary. if he doesn't say, if he said it was the right decision, then it makes you wonder whether he had the public interest at mind at the time and whether he does as treasury secretary. this is a very tough day for him. he's going to get some grillings. he's just walked in live. i think there will be a lot of fireworks, even though we're concentrated on stimulus and state of the union. the bottom line is this could be very important to timothy geithner's future. >> this is our money. >> he's the man in charge. >> we want a traders resect who has integrity who is honest and has our best interests at heart. a lot of people are saying he did not have our best interests at heart. >> what's interesting is we're not sure whose interest -- if you believe the people accusing him, whose interests would he have had at heart. he didn't have any personal gain out of it so what they're trying to get at is did you make the decision. and if you did, why did you make
that decision. so again, a lot of questions will come out. we'll stay on this and listen to what those questions are and more importantly what his answers are. >> let us know and come back when you've got something. thanks, ali. let's head over to our stimulus desk. don lemon is working on a story about a $1.6 billion nuclear waste cleanup that's creating 3,000 jobs. and more money for this, less money for that, not a dime for that other thing. that's just what some are expect ed to hear from president obama tonight. it's the state of the union. and now it's just 11 hours away. white house correspondent suzanne malveaux has a preview for us. what do you think? what are we going to hear? what are we going to get tonight? >> reporter: we're already starting that countdown to the speech. i've been talking to some white house officials this morning and they tell me it's meant to present on the one hand some hard, cold realities. the challenges that americans are facing, namely the dire economic situation. but this is also a speech that is meant to give folks some hope. that there is some help, fickly
for the middle class. things like reforming some practices for health insurance companies. that's something that the president is going to tell the american people he has not given up on. there's some rather non-controversial initiatives, tax credits for child care, limits on federal student loan payments, extended support for caring for the elderly, and a $4 billion increase in federal spending on education. now, the president is also at the same time trying to reach the fiscally conservative democrats, the independents he lost, even some republicans by proposing some things. one of them, a three-year spending freeze on discretionary expenses and no more bonuses for top white house officials. the message being that the president wants to show the american people that he gets it. and i also asked press secretary robert gibbs this morning if the president is going to acknowledge at some point some of the mistakes that he's made, some lessons learned, perhaps, going into this new year. here's how he responded, kyra. >> if the president acknowledged and this team acknowledged all
the mistakes we've made in the first year, we'd have to ask you guys for far more time than we've asked you for to deliver this speech. what i think the president will spend about two-thirds of his time in the speech tonight is walking the american people through his plans to get our economy further back on track, to outline plans for small businesses, to begin hiring workers again, to make retirements more secure and college more affordable. i think those are the topics that the president will spend the most time on tonight. >> reporter: so, kyra, while the president is going to acknowledge he has more work to do in bringing this country together than the change in washington that he had promised, he's squarely putting the onus on republicans who have more power to work with him to try to get significant legislation passed. bottom line is he does need them. >> all right, suzanne malveaux, thanks so much. we'll talk about crafting this critical message. every word counts, as you know. so what does it take to be a big-time political speech
writer? we'll talk to a couple of former pen men about what we should hear and how that is put on paper and prompter. dune into cnn tonight for complete coverage of the president's state of the union speech. our special coverage kicks off at 8:00 p.m. eastern. maybe not since moses has a tablet created so much buzz. apple unveils its latest must have product. is this newest computer really worth all the hype? more wings ! no way he'll be in first thing tomorrow. only alka-seltzer relieves your upset stomach, heartburn, indigestion and headache... so you're good to go in the morning.
you're late. alka-seltzer brings you back. usually about this time i like to check in with cnn.com and check on the news pulls web page. up on the left corner you'll see the news pulse and you just click onto that. these are the stories that all of you are clicking onto, the most popular stories at this time. sometimes we don't have these stories in our newscasts, so we
try to follow this with all of you and then let you know some of maybe the other stories you might be interested in at the moment that it comes up. i just refreshed the page and here's the first story right now. alleged daylight sex assault. if you click on that you'll get the whole segment rick sanchez did yesterday. he talks to police and witnesses about this alleged sex crime that was just committed in plain view. all types of controversy to whether the authorities did enough or not when it came to this crime. number two most popular story right now comes from cnnmoney.com. toyota suspending sales after the recall of millions of dollars of eight models that had a problem with the accelerator pedal. it actually sticks. so if you want to find out if your favorite car is on that list, go to that. and then this one, i love this story, how many of you -- does it just drive you crazy?
we've got to show you this. you can see the video there. can you see the saggy pants? i just don't understand. if you've got a nice pair of pants, why wear them halfway down your back side. anyway jeanne moos takes a look at this new song "pants on the ground" that's become a huge hit online. we love our jeanne moos. it's updated every 15 minutes, cnn.com, go to news pulse and find out the most popular stories right now as we're looking at them too.
remember this legendary commercial? >> we shall prevail. >> oh, yeah. well, fast forward 26 years. from 1984 to 2010, in just a few hours apple's new tablet computer will be ready for its closeup. it's shrouded in mystery, but we do have some details. we always count on errol burnett for this. >> reporter: because apple is so secretive we can't confirm anything. first, you should understand this is not the first time apple has released a tap let device. we spoke to a man named leo la porte, a tech journalist, and he has the first time apple tried this sort of thing.
>> there's one big difference between this and what we're going to see from apple. steve jobs didn't have a hand in this. this was a steve jobs free production. i think that you can tell, it's clunky, it's heavy, it wasn't really all that usable and in fact wasn't very much of a success. >> reporter: companies hoping for a massive turn-around this time. steve jobs returned to apple a few years later. fast forward to today on twitter and it is the top trending topic. three of the top trends relate to apple and its tablet release. then you've got these social networking blogs like mashable. they have posted some pictures of what they believe to be leaked images of the device bolted down to a table. we believe it's about 10 inches in diameter, has a full touch screen and it shows here that it has some wi-fi capability and the ability to mark book marks as well. they took a poll of their readers and found islate is the name they should go with. >> it's like going into the situation room and seeing
high-powered intel, secret photos from the cia. >> reporter: you're absolutely right. apple has got patents to make sure people can't replicate this technology. they have posted a picture and the u.s. patent office announced this also of a proximity sensing touch screen. that sounds really high tech. it means the device may know where your hand is as it manipulates it. why is this a big deal? we know there are a lot of people from electronic arts, ea, they make games. they are invited to today's announcement. comes up in about three hours from now. there could be a lot of gaming features as well in this device. >> so gaming features too. so big money for apple? how many are they anticipating to sell. >> reporter: one of the other major features is its ability to run applications like ebooks. we know this is very successful for amazon this past christmas when they sold more ebooks than physical books. we reached out to the editor-in-cheer of pc mag.com to
see if he could get a price of this device. >> $800 is a price that a lot of people are talking about, but many are concerned that's too expensive. we don't know. i think it's anywhere from $500 to $1,000. obviously if it's over $1,000, then i don't think anybody is going to be interested in it. >> reporter: so what we know, kyra, is this device will possibly play games, read any ebooks, it's basically like an ipod, an iphone without the calling function and a 10-inch device. if it was under $1,000, do you think it's something you would be interested in looking at? >> you're really asking me that question? work had to force me to get a crackberry. no, you're talking to a non-techno geek. >> reporter: apple hopes you don't have to be too tech savvy to use these devices. last time they rolled out the iphone a lot of people seemed like it was overwhelming but it's so easy to use with that touch screen interface it has done very well.
the same is true with the ipod. we don't know what's going to happen. it's less than three hours from now and we'll watch it closely, but this could be a game-changing device. who knows, it might convince you to get one. follow the money, ask the questions. that's what our stimulus desk today tracking the government project that say we're all paying for. this hour, the waste that pays, nuclear waste. host: could switching to geico really save you 15% or more on car insurance? host: did the waltons take way too long to say goodnight? mom: g'night john boy. g'night mary ellen.
mary ellen: g'night mama. g'night erin. elizabeth: g'night john boy. jim bob: g'night grandpa. elizabeth: g'night ben. m bob:'night. elizabeth: g'night jim bob. jim bob: g'night everybody, grandpa: g'night everybody. @y jim bob: g'night daddy. vo: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more. we don't go lower than 130. big deal, pe 5uade him. is it wise to allow a perishable item to spoil? he asked, why leave a room empty? the additional revenue easily covers operating costs. 65 dollars is better than no dollars. okay. $65 for tonight. you can't argue with a big deal.
government stimulus program, it's your money. you should know how it's spent, don't you think? this week at cnn we're bringing you answers, looking at where the $158 billion in stimulus funds, nearly 57,000 projects by the way, have gone or are going. our team is looking at project that say really stimulate the economy and those that might have you saying why don't they just burn it instead. cleaning up nuclear waste. that's not a job that you'll give to just anyone with the lowest bid, but are taxpayers getting their money's worth in a billion dollar cleanup in the southeast. that's the question as our stimulus desk tracks the government spending in a wide range of projects. don, what have you got? >> reporter: every little bit talks. it's not just one. $1.6 billion. that's a lot of stimulus dollars
that these guys got. this is a nuclear facility which is located in aiken, south carolina, right on the border, kyra, of south carolina and georgia. and it's called the savannah river project. i'm going to talk, this young lady knows everything about this project and she hit me to it just a bit ago. 310 square miles, this facility. it's a nuclear facility but they want to clean it up, reduce the footprint so they can start adding more jobs. >> exactly. basically the savannah river nuclear solutions is a company that's gotten $1.4 billion to accelerate the cleanup of this site. now, they're saying on recovery.gov it's laisted as 80 full-time jobs that have been saved or created but they say that number is higher because they have staff augmentation. they have hired companies to staff this site to accelerate this cleanup. >> reporter: and they said, what, 3,000 -- they're saying
3,000 instead of 800. >> exactly. 3,007 jobs working on this project. it's a 30-month project, started in april of last year and will end in september of 2011. >> reporter: owned by the department of energy? >> the department of energy owns this site but this company is in charge of operating and managing the site. they have been awarded this money to accelerate the cleanup. they also give out contracts for things like cement and all sorts of things because they're deactivating reactors and doing all sorts of stuff at the site. >> reporter: so thank you very much. we've added to our board here the number of -- that we're looking at, so far $3 billion, this $1.6 billion adds a billion dollars. that's what we're checking on and will get to the bottom of it. where are your taxpayer dollars going. how many jobs were created. that's what we're doing here. we're back in a little bit with more information on this project and others. >> we're monitoring the house
government reform committee hearing that's under way this hour. treasury secretary tim geithner expected to testify about the collapse and federal rescue of aig. these are live pictures right now. plus they are haiti's future healers, but right now their careers are on hold. medical students without a school after the quake.
been in class that day but you weren't. if you'd been in chlass, i thin everybody probably would have died. >> yes. >> reporter: but they very much lived and now they have all the vitality of youth. ricardo and paul robert, they're best friends. they have matching bags, inseparab inseparable. now they're on their way to being haiti's future healers. the way it works you go to primary school, secondary school and the very best students go to medical school for seven years. paul robert was in his fifth year. he was this close to being the first person in his family to ever becoming a doctor when this all happened. that's where you used to sit? right over there? >> over there on the other side. >> reporter: when you look at your school now, what are you going to do? what is your plan? >> when i see my medical school collapse, it's a very bad thing for us. >> reporter: what type of doctor do you want to be? >> i want to be a radiologist.
>> reporter: he would be one of fewer than 2,000 doctors in the entire country of nine million people. >> reporter: so that's the only thing still standing is the front wall. >> yeah, the only thing standing. >> reporter: many would look at paul robert and say he's lucky. his mother survived the earthquake, siblings as well. but now it is his very future that hangs in the balance. so what will you do? what are you going to do next year and the year after that? >> first of all, i will spend some of my time to search what can i do for other medical school and the country. >> reporter: so you're saying many of the medical schools are destroyed or broken. >> yes. >> reporter: so you may have to leave your country. >> maybe, i don't know. >> reporter: that's pretty bad news, considering how poor medicine was to begin with here in haiti. here's a number that sort of surprised me. even under typical circumstances, haiti only graduates 80 medical doctors a year. every single year. think about that, in a country of nine million people.
giving haiti one of the lowest physician-to-patient ratio nis where in the world. with this, obviously those numbers get a lot worse. but for the time being there is a lot of compassion here. doctors from all over the world come to help. what happens when they leaf? >> if they leave, i think it will be very difficult for us. >> reporter: what we know is eventually haiti's medical care and really haiti's future will fall squarely on the shoulders of these kids, kids like ricardo and paul-robert. those numbers are pretty surprising, but keep in mind when we're talking about haiti, we're talking about a country that is an 80% poverty rate. only around 2% of people actually finish secondary school or high school. going on to medical school is a very big deal here and a much more difficult one, given the destruction to these medical schools. so as people build on the medical infrastructure here, building on the medical school, medical education is going to need to be a big part of that.
kyra, back to you. >> thanks so much. almost time to step up and address the nation, folks. >> the president of the united states. >> president obama with a message for the american people tonight. talk about making every word count. we'll ask a couple of big-time speech writers about crafting that critical message. [ male announcer ] welcome to the now network, population 49 million.
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preferred package. good choice. only meineke lets you choose your service, choose your savings. like an oil change for just $19.95. meineke. the foreclosure crisis hit nearly three million americans last year but now bank of america says it does have a plan to help people hang on to their homes. susan lisovicz, tell us about it. >> reporter: yeah, you know what, this is important, kyra, because bank of america says it's the first lender to agree to lower or eliminate payments on second mortgages. the plan will pay incentives to
second mortgage holders to work closely with first mortgage holders who had typically been reluctant to lower payments when there was a second lien involved because they didn't want to take on losses while leaving payments on the second mortgages intact. second mortgages are often considered riskier to the lender, they often carry higher mortgage rates and they were big during the housing boom, so it could potentially ease the log jam for people to rework their first mortgages and that is something certainly that one would need in addressing this housing crisis, kyra. >> there's been a lot of criticism for president obama's housing programs because they haven't helped as many people as expected. will this one be more successful, do you think? >> reporter: starting with bank of america is a good start. why is that? because it's the nation's top mortgage lender. it has three million second loans outstanding. the idea is that other banks could follow b of a, sign up for
this program. certainly would help at a time when there's no question the housing market is still struggling with a 10% unemployment rate. we just got news signs of that today. new home sales fell more than 7.5% in december to a nine-month low and it follows the 17% drop we saw earlier in existing home sales and so what we're seeing on wall street not surprising. we have a lot going on today and a lot of news yet to come. the federal reserve decision later today, state of the union address tonight, apple unveiling what could be an exciting new gadget. but what we're seeing in the meantime, the dow, the nasdaq and the s&p 500 selling off but just modestly, kyra. >> all right. thanks, susan. hi, i'm meteorologist jacqui jeras. a powerful ice storm set to slam the southern plains states, plus find out how the national guard is helping people near flagstaff, arizona, still stranded from last week's storm.
tell you what, the steel city of pittsburgh may need -- pennsylvania's d.o.t. was able to reopen a half-mile stretch of i-306 just in time for rush hour. flooding from heavy rain coupled melting snow prompted that road closure. it's much cooler and a lot prettier in california. this is yesterday. take a look at that snow. the storm is now tracking eastward bringing a good bit of appe apprehension along with it. >> you know, some folks still dealing with last week's storm. take a look at these pictures. this is from northern arizona just outside of the flagstaff area. and there's a remote tribal community here that is still stranded from the storm. the snow drifts are eight feet high and the national guard has been out there having to do
these helicopter drops of mres and water to help these folks. this was the second highest snowfall ever for the flagstaff area. all right, let's talk a little bit more about our latest winter storm here, which is on the move. you know, quiet day today, but we're going to see this system in the southwest begin to move into the plains. that's going to come in with cold air from the north. so cold air on the bottom, warm air on the top spells freezing rain and ice. we could see accumulations half an inch to an inch along the i-44 corridor from oklahoma city up towards tulsa into the fayetteville, arkansas, area. behind that we'll see heavy snow in northwestern oklahoma. 6 to 12 inches could be expected. and then we'll see the wind behind that. so any power lines that didn't fall down could do that with the wind, unfortunately. cold temperatures, not going to get above freezing until late in the weekend. this is a big-time storm and people need to be ready for this because they could go for days without power. >> we'll be tracking it with
you, thank you. popularity that's hurting. health care reform on life support. president obama seems to be in a bit of a rut right now, so how high are the stakes tonight for his state of the union address. if you're the president's speech writer, where do you even begin? live from new york, michael coe hen, former speech writer for bill richardson and chris dodd and author of the book "live from the campaign trail" and from washington, matt larimer, former speech writer for george w. bush and author of "speech-less, taelz les of a wh house survivor." matt, let's start with you. if you're writing the speech tonight, where would you even begin? how would you kick it off? >> well, i think that president obama needs to remember why he got elected. he was running both against the establishment of the republican party and the establishment of the democratic party, which is represented by secretary clinton. what i think he needs to do is recapture the magic that he had when he was running for president as somebody that's running against washington and
the system. and the way i'd do that is just acknowledging the problems that the country is facing, acknowledging in a way that he hasn't quite lived up to the expectations people had for him and then, you know, pursue an agenda much more in keeping with the campaign that he ran. >> michael, what about you? how would you devise that first line, that first thought knowing what you know about the pulse of the country right now? >> i think, you know, obama needs to sort of channel his inner bill clinton and feel america's pain. i think there's been a real disconnect between what he's been trying to accomplish in washington and the pain people are feeling out in the country. i think any way possible that he can make the connection between the stimulus package, between health care reform, between all the different measures he's pushing and how it's going to affect americans on a day-to-day basis. i think making that connection, that sort of -- showing the empathy that he needs to show i think would be really important. >> people connect with transparency, with humor, with, look, this is how it is.
sometimes even taking a shot at yourself. how do you find that balance, matt, of sort of being serious and also being humorous and maybe even taking a couple of stabs at yourself? >> i think it's very important for the president to do that. he sometimes has an image of being a law school professor who doesn't have a lot of emotion and he does have emotion. i think it's very helpful to be self depp railway kating. you do that early on in the speech and make some sort of joke about i talked about change and i need to give you some more change of my own or something. but humor is very important. people remember that. president bush when i wrote for him used to love to make fun of himself and people seemed to respond to that very well. >> you bring up a good point. michael, how much do presidents really put into their speeches? how much do they write their speeches? i mean i can think of abe lincoln that wrote the gettysburg address on a train, but do presidents really write these or do you guys hold the power?
>> well, i think every president is different. they have their own style. i think obama is unique in the sense that he's a writer. he's written two books so he knows how to write pretty well. i imagine a lot of what will go from tonight's speech will come from his pen. state of the unions are kind of weird speeches because they're a lot more prose than poet tree. and it's a laundry list of items so i imagine you'll see more of sort of a workman's type address than to see sort of the kind of speeches we associate with him during the campaign. >> i want to ask both of you this. matthew and michael, matthew, let's start with you, how do you even become a speech writer? i was reading that you said that you were basically a political geek with a slightly mortified liberal parents because you wanted to work for a conservative president. you can't take speech writing 101 in college. how did it happen for you? >> well, sometimes it happens just in the luck of the draw and i kind of moved up the ranks.
i worked on capitol hill and then i went to the pentagon and worked as a speech writer for the secretary of defense and then i just kind of got lucky and went to the white house. but, you know, there's a lot of wonderful writers who never make it and a lot who do make it that aren't that wonderful. >> michael, i love that quote, well, i fell back asswards into this career. >> that's how it happened for me. they can't find anything else to do. hey, can you write a speech? sure, i can do that. >> you guys are being far too humble because both of you are incredible writers. matthew and michael, thanks, guys. look forward to seeing what you think of the speech too after tonight. appreciate your time. >> thank you. >> sure. tune into cnn tonight for complete coverage of the president's state of the union speech. our coverage kicks off at 8:00 eastern. and there will be some tough sledding. poppy harlow there at the beautiful swiss resort and, yes, what a setting. up next the world's top
policymakers want to prevent another financial meltdown. poppy is all over this story for us. then on capitol hill, no smooth skiing or sailing for the president's top money man. just tough questions. like why were billions of your tax dollars secretly funneled to some banks? we'll dip in and see what he's saying. this isn't going to be just any flu season. and expectant mothers, children, and young adults are especially at risk for the h1n1 flu virus. so let's join together and fight the flu. by getting your flu vaccine, you'll protect yourself and help prevent the spread of the flu. flu vaccines are safe and are the most effective way to prevent the flu. get the facts at flu.gov. together, we can all fight the flu.
switzerland days a crossroads of economics and politics. the world economic forum getting under way there. decision makers squaring off. at issue whether to enact tougher financial reforms to prevent another global meltdown but the leaders of the top world banks say regulations would choke off an economic recovery. the passions of the debate
underline the anxiety that still hangs over the world economies right now -- world's economy, rather, and the obstacles that block a robust rebound. poppy, what are the bigwigs talking about? >> reporter: well, kyra, it's very interesting. the focus here is three things. it is rethink, rebuild and redesign. a year out from the depths of the financial crisis, how do we fix a global economy moving forward. on the eve of the president's state of the union address, the key topic here is clear, it is u.s. financial reform. what will that be. we'll have top banking officials i've spoken to who have said this is not the right reform, this is risky reform, this is not what we need. essentially reenacting a majority of glass that separated commercial and investment banks and was repealed in the 1990s. remember the president last week pushing forward on that with paul volcker. a lot of banks opposing that. however, barney frank here, i
saw him this morning, he will be pushing for that reform. but i talked to an economist known around the world as dr. doom, he's very pessimistic still about the state of the economy. he says, kyra, honestly we don't have enough regulation and wall street is going back to its old ways. take a listen. >> i fear that we're back to business as usual in the financial system on banks. they're taking risks. so we need to try to curb the excess in the financial system. i think that we're not doing enough. people are worried about the regulation. >> reporter: kyra, you can expect the president to address the banking system, morality, compensation, all of this tonight in his state of the union address, that is certainly a hot topic when we talk about reform here. >> well, the forum truly a global one, so what's the sense that you're actually getting the perception, you know, that the u.s. economy versus those around
the world? >> reporter: you know, it's a nervous perception. we're talking to business leaders here that run companies that operate around the world. the majority of them are telling me watch china, watch it very closely, because as the u.s. struggles to get out of this recession, and as we grapple with all of these proposed new financial reforms, the east, china in particular, is moving full steam ahead. that's something that they're very wary of in terms of how the u.s. can compete. we're just about an hour and a half away from the keynote opening speech here. it will be given by french president nicolas sarkozy. he is expected to talk critically and very focused on, what else, financial reform. that is certainly the hot topic here, kyra, today. you can see all of our updates on cnn money. >> sounds great. beautiful background, poppy. what a place to be. well, he was trapped under the rubble. he says he first thought of god, then it was his music.
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these may be signs of ttp, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition reported sometimes less than 2 weeks after starting plavix. other rare but serious side effects may occur. well, we've heard a lot of inspirational stories from haiti, and this one is right up there, top of the list. a violinist trapped under the rubble of his music school humming concertos just to stay
alive. our john zarrella got to meet him in a miami hospital and brings us his remarkable story. hey, john. >> reporter: that's right. rammel joseph is not only blind but is a world class violinist and he spent a day and a half buried in the rubble in haiti. he's recovering at a hospital, at jackson memorial hospital here in miami. i spoke to him yesterday. he told me people survive these kinds of events in all kinds of different ways. his was through music. middle school students came to the hospital to play. they sensed music could ease his pain. rammel joseph's fingers on his left hand are shattered, his legs crushed. his grave is what he calls the rubble where he was entombed. when the quake hit he was on the third floor. suddenly, there was no floor.
>> i was just lying there, very peacefully down there. what happened. okay, it was a bad dream, let me wake up. and then i was trying to wake up and i couldn't wake it. i guess it's real life. >> reporter: almost completely blind, joseph, a renowned violinist, lay buried here, in the fractured concrete. all that is left of his new victorian school where haitian children learned the joy of classical music. none were there that tuesday afternoon, but for 18 hours joseph lay pinned. he talked first to god. >> if you're here, i'm really hot, i need some cool air. and believe it, the next thing i know, there is a cool air that got in. >> reporter: then he turned to music. as if detaching his mind from his broken body, joseph began recounting every violin concerto he had ever performed. he could see the moment. every symphony hall, every
auditorium. >> walking on stage, everyone there, a full hall, and you start playing. >> reporter: each hour he picked another, the longer the better. >> i know i picked several. >> reporter: i guess it's a good thing that you knew a lot. >> yes, i know a lot of concertos for violin. >> reporter: it's a good thing. >> and i look for the long one. >> reporter: his spirits are just unbelievably high. >> surprising considering what he's been through. >> reporter: it was thursday after the quake when victoria found out her dad was alive. victoria's stepmother has not been found. >> he's definitely not dealing with it until he sees firsthand whether or not because part of him truly believes he still might be out there. >> reporter: doctors are not sure joseph will ever be able to play his violin again. he says he will. >> i have to play so that they can hear what i want them to play. >> reporter: how else could he
teach the children when he rebuilds. rammel was telling me that he's got feeling in his fingers on his left hand so he's pretty convinced that he'll play again. but he really wants a keyboard so that he can start to exercise those fingers. you know, he's going to be in the hospital for another couple weeks at least, several more surgeries to go. and, again, he's sure looking to get his hands on a keyboard so he can exercise those brilliant fingers he has. >> well, i tell you what. you told me about that and i was very touched by his story. john, hold on just a second because i do have a bit of a surprise here that came through at the last minute. rammel joseph joining me live now from the hospital. rammel, how are you feeling? >> i'm fine, thank you. >> bless your heart. you really went through a lot. i heard that you wanted a keyboard and i have a special surprise for you. are you a fan of stevie wonder?
>> yes. i like him. i like his music. you know, his music is -- i'm glad i'm not a singer because i couldn't sing. the music he wrote is very challenging i would say for any singer, but i love to hear his music. >> i know you do. and that's why we have arranged something special for you. joining us now, music great and the u.n.'s messenger of peace, stevie wonder. stevie, i understand you have a surprise for mr. rammel. isn't that true? >> what's up? >> hey, i'm fine. can you hear me? >> yeah, i can hear you. yes, sir. i'm really fine. >> you know, god is mighty and so i'm really excited to know that your spirits are high and so what i have for you is a motif 88 keyboard and i'll get
it to you. >> oh, my goodness. thank you so very much. >> because we know you're going to play -- >> yes, i play the keyboard too because i make musical arrangements, but that is so wonderful and exciting because i can't put my arm in the position of performing on the violin, but the keyboard i can do exercises so that the fingers start being active. >> what we're going to do actually is we're going to give you two keyboards. we'll give you the -- my motif that i have, i'll send you my personal one, and i was given a new keyboard by cartswell and i'm going to give you that as well because they say, as you know, in( anything that's special to you
really is special, you pass it on. so i'll give you my keyboard that i've used a lot when i did songs for a time to love and i'll give you the new keyboard that i just got, which is the keyboard -- the carswell keyboard. i look forward to hearing you play violin as soon as your fingers get stronger because i know you will play again. >> yes, i'm confident i will play because i was told during my fascinating time under the ground with jesus, which people may find strange, but, you know, sometimes you are in a situation for a specific reason. >> yeah. >> and i was assured that i would be able to play the violin again even with my hand in that condition. >> i look forward to meeting you, i look forward to hearing
you play and my prayers go out to you and all the families and people in haiti. we're going to know that all things happen, even those things that are bad, we can turn them into good. as you know, so many millions of people gave and came out just in making sure that we don't just talk about it but we do about it and so many people have done about it by their donations and contributions. so we're excited. we're excited for you and others that are alive. >> stevie wonder. >> i would like to say thank you to you. yes, i would like to feel that i'm honored that i'll be playing on a keyboard that you play and i would like to also say thank you to cnn and to you and to all those who care about the situation in haiti and the
situation -- all of us survivors, earthquake survivors who will be working towards improving lives in haiti. >> amen. rammel, we lift you up and your strength and, stevie, thank you so much. as you probably heard in the piece, rammel is julliard trained, he went back to haiti to start a music school for kids who can't afford it and has brought music to so many people there in haiti and has become just an incredible mentor just like you. thank you so much for donating your keyboards to him. i believe this. i know both of you are big believers and he's going to make beautiful music again, not only with your keyboards but with the violin. >> thank you, and thanks to cnn for bringing this information to the world. you know, it's all good. i'll see you soon, mr. joseph. >> yes, i hope to meet you soon